- Google Cloud’s generative AI services can choose to store their data at rest in any of ten available countries.
- Customer data storage options are available in Asia Japan, Singapore and Korea.
- The Singapore Center for Strategic Infocomm Technologies and Google Cloud will test the use of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted.
The sovereign cloud is increasingly sought after by organizations as they seek to meet compliance and regulatory requirements set by the governments of the countries in which they operate. While in the past only regulated industries like financial services needed such capabilities, today organizations from all industries are finding the sovereign cloud to be a more secure option for them.
Data sovereignty is a legal concept that defines authority and jurisdiction over data. This means that data collected, stored, processed or transmitted within a country or region is subject to the laws and regulations of that country or region. Different countries may have different rules and requirements for data protection, privacy, security and governance, so where data is physically stored becomes important in terms of what companies can do with it.
In Southeast Asia, the demand for sovereign cloud increased, and cloud service providers meet the specific needs of organizations. According to the latest statistics available, Southeast Asia and Europe are seeing a higher demand for such skills.
At the same time, the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence means that organizations must be able to ensure that their data is not compromised. This is achieved by ensuring that the data is under their control, which means that it must be stored and easily accessible locally.
Google unveils data retention capabilities for AI workloads
Addressing the need for companies to control where their data is stored in light of increasing data sovereignty and global regulatory requirements, Google has announced that customers using Google Cloud’s generative AI services can choose to store their data at rest in any of ten available countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
“With our new data residency obligations for the generative capabilities of Vertex AI, we are committed to storing user data in locations selected by users in accordance with the Google Cloud Terms of Service. This specifically includes generative AI on Vertex AI, which includes the PaLM 2, Codey and Imagen models, as well as the Text Embeddings and Multimodal Embeddings APIs,” said Warren Barkley, Senior Director, Product Management, Cloud AI, Google Cloud.
Customer data storage options are available in Asia Japan, Singapore and Korea. Barkley also explained that Google handles user data and privacy in the following ways:
- Customers control their data and models and control access to them. Organizations determine who can access their data and models and how those assets can be used.
- Customers control where and how data and models are stored. Organizations can choose to store data in locations of their choosing, preventing deployment beyond certain geographic boundaries.
- Google never uses customer data. Google does not use user data to train its models or models used by others without permission.
- Customer information is available when needed. AI products adhere to the same availability standards as other Google Cloud services.
- Users enjoy enterprise-grade security and privacy default settings. Whether for specific security needs or to meet regulatory requirements, Google Cloud AI services enable organizations to apply privacy protection and fine-grained security controls to their data and models.
“Additionally, Google Cloud stands behind these guarantees with technical controls, contractual terms, and industry-recognized certifications and audits. This means that when organizations build or adapt models on our AI platform, our shared destiny approach to risk management means we partner with the organization from day one to protect the data and models. These efforts include a collaborative approach to cybersecurity and the development of our Secure AI Framework (SAIF), which offers practical considerations to help businesses mitigate AI-specific risks,” explained Barkley.
Singapore leads the way in data residency in Southeast Asia
Barkley also mentioned that Google chose Singapore because of the country’s development and focus on AI. The country is leading the development of AI use cases and adoption in the region, especially with regulations that allow it with minimal complexity.
However, there is still a need to meet data sovereignty requirements. Following the announcement, the Center for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT) and Google Cloud will pilot the use of Google Distributed Cloud Hosted (GDC Hosted) to support CSIT’s efforts to leverage AI to address Singapore’s defense and security challenges.
As a member of the Defense Technology Community, CSIT would certainly have to work with a technology supplier that can guarantee them data sovereignty. With Google Cloud now making Singapore a key country for data at rest, it only makes sense for CSIT to partner with Google Cloud. As part of the pilot, CSIT will trial the use of GDC Hosted on-premises, using the solution’s built-in data management and pre-trained machine learning capabilities to process sensitive data.
GDC Hosted provides organizations in public sector and highly regulated industries with a cloud platform that does not require a connection to Google Cloud or the public Internet for its operation and continuous management. This gives organizations the ability to run workloads in their data centers with the functionality, flexibility and scale of cloud services.
At the same time, organizations will also have the ability to form clusters in multiple GDC hosted zones for additional protection against system failures and more flexible, modular options for adding additional computing resources such as graphics processing units (GPUs) designed to run demanding artificial intelligence workloads.
Speaking of AI workloads, GDC hosted is designed to support data, operations and software sovereignty requirements, which includes advanced AI and database services such as Vertex AI and AlloyDB Omni, and increases user control and transparency over sensitive data. Updates for GDC Hosted, including Google Cloud’s pre-trained AI models, are accessed through secure hardware and installed by the user. As a GDC Hosted customer, CSIT retains full operational control over all data and software, ensuring the security of critical workloads.
“CSIT develops digital capabilities for defense and security, such as cyber defense. Collaborating with Google Cloud on GDC Hosted allows us to leverage its expertise in data management, cloud technologies and artificial intelligence while safeguarding sensitive data,” said Darren Teo, CEO of CSIT.
Google and AI: From Singapore to Thailand and Malaysia
In addition to the Singapore update, Google also announced plans for Thailand and Malaysia. The announcements, which focus on AI and skills development, will not only boost the technological capabilities of both countries, but also give Google a stronger footprint in the region.
For Thailand, Google announced a strategic collaboration to strengthen Thailand digital competitiveness and accelerate artificial intelligence innovation. The agreement will allow the parties to work together to establish the four fundamental pillars necessary for the country to thrive in the AI economy.
The four pillars are:
- Improving investment in digital infrastructure – Google is exploring the potential establishment of a new Google data center in the country to launch digital services.
- Promoting the safe and responsible adoption of artificial intelligence to transform public service delivery – The Government of Thailand and Google will launch joint initiatives to accelerate the bold and responsible development and application of artificial intelligence in ministries, government agencies and key industries.
- Anchoring on cloud-centric policies – Google will support MDES’ development of a Go Cloud-first strategy for Thailand, contributing political and technological expertise to ensure the delivery of a resilient, cost-effective, innovation-driven digital infrastructure for the country.
- Making digital skills more accessible to Thais – Google will offer 12,000 additional Google Career Certificate scholarships under its Smart Skills program in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Board of Investment of Thailand.
Ruth Porat, President and Chief Investment Officer; Chief Financial Officer for Alphabet and Google, commented: “Guided by our local Leave No Thai Behind mission, our partnership with the Government of Thailand seeks to strengthen its digital competitiveness and further advance its cloud-first digital transformation. We see enormous potential for technology to be a powerful enabler for businesses and communities. Together, we want to improve the delivery of public services and expand the adoption of AI technologies with Google Cloud. Importantly, we will empower Thais to participate in the digital economy by upskilling talent and providing a secure, reliable and innovative digital infrastructure for people and businesses.”
Meanwhile, the Government of Malaysia and Google announced a strategic collaboration to create inclusive growth opportunities for more Malaysians and local businesses in the fast-growing digital economy. The collaboration brings both parties together to help companies of all sizes improve their digital competitiveness through skills programmes, investments in digital infrastructure, responsible AI innovationand first cloud rules.
To provide Malaysians with more digital training opportunities, Google Cloud, CloudMile and Trainocate are making five digital learning tracks available free of charge. Available through the Go Cloud program—which aims to upskill 300,000 Malaysians by 2026—the learning pathways consist of online courses that help individuals better apply generative artificial intelligence, data analytics and cloud-based productivity tools.
The Malaysian government and Google Cloud will also launch joint initiatives to power AI to create new jobs, improve public service delivery and help local businesses tap into global markets.
“The partnership we are announcing with the Malaysian government aligns Google’s local mission Advancing Malaysia Together with the government’s goal to create an innovation-supporting ecosystem that includes more meaningful and equitable job opportunities. To advance these shared goals, we intend to help Malaysian organizations solve real-world challenges by leveraging artificial intelligence and leveraging Google Cloud technologies to rapidly implement solutions for economic growth and public good,” said Porat.